Strong monitoring, meritocratic government, tech abilities aided Singapore's battle against Covid-19: Report

Social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing also helped Singapore execute effective quarantines. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Strong monitoring and detection, a meritocratic government and a "high degree" of technological sophistication helped make Singapore one of the safest places to live during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those qualities helped Singapore execute effective quarantines as well as social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing, the Deep Knowledge Group survey of 200 countries and territories said.

The report credits Singapore's use of location data, video camera footage and the app TraceTogether, which tracks and records close encounters with infected people, for helping to contain the virus.

Singapore has the highest number of coronavirus cases in South-east Asia, but heavy investment in equipment, facilities and professionals prevented healthcare services from becoming overwhelmed.

Recent investments in artificial intelligence as well as digital services bode well for future improvements in case monitoring as well as testing and treatment for Covid-19, the report said, listing Singapore's opportunities for improving its effectiveness fighting the virus.

But the country is highly reliant on migrant workers and supply chains, which make it vulnerable to shortages of labour and goods when it closes its borders.

It lost 22,000 foreign workers between December 2019 and March, said the June 4 report, citing Ministry of Manpower data.

A large elderly population, which has the biggest chance of succumbing to the coronavirus, also makes it vulnerable to future outbreaks.

One-quarter of Singaporeans older than 40 have at least one chronic disease like diabetes, the report noted.

But on balance, Singaporeans' attributes make it resilient against future outbreaks.

A small island, it moved quickly to shut down non-essential cross-border travel, helping to neutralise transmission of the virus.

When it comes to the less tangible elements like culture, Singapore did well, too, owing to a disciplined and orderly population, the report said.

"This, in combination with the very strict penalties put in place for violating quarantine and social distancing mandates, has helped to reduce overall infection-spread risk."

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